Around the time my youngest child turned two, when we lived in the thick of toddler tantrums, I began having meltdowns of my own. My daughter’s usually occurred in the toy aisle at Target, but mine were mostly behind closed doors. I could be found quietly sobbing in the bathtub or lying in bed at night, blood pulsing hard and my thoughts a roar into the silence.
I spent my twenties learning how to be a wife and a mother. I skipped the part most twenty-somethings take for granted–the years they spend figuring out what they want to be when they grow up and discovering who they are as individuals. When I realized my last baby was no longer a baby, that she would soon attend pre-school leaving me with a few hours each week to myself, I floundered.
I floundered and then I melted down. Repeatedly. More than once, my husband found me in tears, asking myself over and over what I would do with my one “wild and precious life”, as Mary Oliver says. After much emotional upheaval, I realized the pre-school years offered me a chance to discover my true self, the authentic me that didn’t walk around in a sleep-deprived and diaper-induced haze all the time. I didn’t know how deep my own God-given talents and giftings lay buried, but now I had a wee bit of time to begin unearthing them.
I asked myself the question “Who am I and what is my calling?” every day for years. I began to look for the areas of my life that brought me great joy, those rare moments in which I felt fully myself and fully alive. I prayed and cried and fought and tried, and in frustration, finally agreed to allow God to show me. I thought I would find myself in serving, in teaching Sunday school or working in my chosen profession of nursing. Instead, I found myself in stories. I discovered that my authentic and fully alive self is found in the written word, in my own words scrawled across a blank page. Not only did I meet myself there, I met God there too.
I am taken with the first chapter of John, where Jesus is described as The Word, because this is exactly who He is to me. I understand words and how they speak. I’m also taken with the story of John the Baptist in that same chapter. He is repeatedly asked, “Who are you?” by the priests of Jerusalem. John is a man who knows exactly who he is and who he isn’t. He admits he is not the Christ, but he also tells the priests that he is the one Isaiah spoke of, “The voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord’.”
John knows his place. He knows his call and his purpose. He is not afraid of his authentic, locust-eating, skin-wearing, wilderness-dwelling self. He knows he fulfills the words of the prophet, and the purpose of his own words are to point to the One who is coming.
I love John’s assurance. I want this kind of assurance for you and I want it for me. We may not fulfill the words of a prophet, but we are the fulfillment of a vision created and set in the heart of God. Let’s lean into who we are created to be, and allow God to use our truest selves to speak of The Word and His kingdom that is coming.
Kimberly recently moved from Switzerland back to the United States where she lives with her husband and favorite little people. She copes with life’s biggest questions by drinking lots of tea, writing, and God’s grace. You can find her writing at www.kimberlyanncoyle.com or tweeting @KimberlyACoyle.